Congratulations to the historic class of 2020! Many of you have and will continue to celebrate virtually amid COVID-19 — and rightfully so, as you’ve accomplished a major milestone: graduating. And yet, while you’re no doubt eager to get out there and launch your career, you’re probably also a little anxious about entering the job market.
Graduating during this time will add its own challenges on top of the usual angst that comes along with finding, interviewing for and landing your dream accounting job. In fact, 75 percent of students with jobs have already seen them canceled, delayed or shifted to remote work. That’s especially tough considering many students rely on summer jobs, internships and entry-level positions to gain experience to strengthen their portfolios.
The silver lining in all of this is that we’ve been here before so we know one thing for certain — the job market will eventually bounce back. That’s why it’s all the more important that you take advantage of the downtime now so you can land your dream accounting role when the opportunity strikes.
To help you, here are two things you can do to better prepare for your interview and, ultimately, secure your dream job.
Shelter in place means you can keep learning
Yes, you’re a degree-toting scholar who’s up on all the latest accounting software, but employers are always looking for candidates who are committed to continual professional development. What are some new skills you can learn while you have downtime? Are you prepared for the nuances in corporate culture that are learned on the job like reporting, process management and team collaboration? Are you prepared to exhibit all of those with confidence in a remote-work setting? Some candidates are deprioritizing upskilling — but that’s a mistake, as doing so can help tip the scales in your favor.
Here are a few ideas to take charge of your own personal growth while you wait for that call back.
- Remote work culture: Many companies that are hiring have transitioned to remote work. The good thing about it is millennial and Gen Z candidates have a reputation for being very tech-savvy — but it also comes with a cost. This could be a big adjustment if you’re the kind of worker who thrives in social atmospheres. For more introverted individuals, on the other hand, it may be the perfect recipe for success. Research tips for remote working culture and start practicing them now. The more you expose yourself to these potential challenges, the less intimidating they will be when they arise on the job.
- Adaptability: Every employee reacts to change in the workplace differently. Some employees have difficulty dealing with changes, while others create solutions to adapt. Which one are you? Employers appreciate an employee who is flexible to change, especially in times of adversity. Learn new skills that complement your accounting degree, acquire certifications and put them into practice by tapping into your network and offering to work for free for friends and family. Use their feedback to further expand your portfolio. Additionally, you can pivot your core skills toward an essential job, for instance, in finance and banking positions. As we’ve seen time and time again, change is the only constant in today’s post-digital workplace.
- Effective time management: Knowing how to organize your daily priorities is crucial to any task you take on — both in and outside of work. If you can master this at home, you’ll see a great improvement to your work-life balance, which in turn, can make you even more productive at your job — especially in a remote capacity. Attempt to master prioritization and scheduling specific tasks throughout the day. Solidify your habits by practicing them as a part of your day-to-day routine.
- Critical thinking: Critical-thinking skills allow you to visualize and solve problems, which is a form of self-management under pressure. Obtaining these skills can help you see solutions to problems that may not be immediately obvious to everyone else. If you’re not a naturally analytical person, don’t fret, as it’s a skill that can be taught. Here’s a great article to help you improve your critical-thinking skills.
- Effortless collaboration: Your ability to work well with others could make the difference between loving your job and finding it frustrating and unenjoyable. Keep an open line of communication, and as you work on expanding your portfolio, stay plugged in with your clients using the latest collaboration tools like Google Hangouts or Zoom. This will improve your ability to collaborate in a digital environment.
Be prepared for tough questions during virtual interviews
Years of schooling led to this very moment: an interview for your dream job. However, when it comes to connecting with a prospective employer, many people end up freezing. Fifty percent of Americans say they’ve done a job interview that they felt completely unprepared for. After all, poor preparation and out-of-control nerves can be a tough combination. But if you prepare ahead of time, you can avoid wasting all those years you spent training and crunching for exams. Here’s a list of some of the most commonly asked interview questions to get familiar with before your next interview.
- What are your strengths/weaknesses?
- Why should I hire you, what value will you bring to the company?
- Tell me about yourself, what soft skills make you a good employee?
- Why do you want to work here?
- How do you handle tight deadlines?
Thinking through questions like these ahead of time can lessen your nerves and prevent you from getting caught by surprise. Practice your answers with a friend so you can sharpen your responses. Rehearsing your answers in advance also helps you build up a mental reservoir of past examples to pull from during the interview. The more you prepare and practice, the less likely you’ll be to panic when asked a tough question.
Another factor to consider here is the virtual setup. Make sure to login at least ten minutes ahead of time to ensure you have a steady internet connection and resolve any technical issues before the call. This will make you appear serious, engaged and excited for the opportunity. Also, try to have good lighting, wear presentable clothing and limit distractions as much as possible.
As states begin to reopen, businesses across virtually every industry will begin bringing their workforces back to work. When searching for accounting roles, read through the job descriptions and be honest with yourself — do you meet all the necessary criteria or is there room for improvement? This will help you determine where you can start when it comes to refining your skillset. Another great way to land your dream job is to work with a staffing firm that specializes in accounting to help match your strengths to a position best-suited for you. By doing your homework ahead of time, you allow potential employers to see you at your best, both in-person and virtually. In the words of Bobby Unser, “success is where preparation and opportunity meet.” Best of luck, graduates!
As Group President, Randstad Professionals, Randstad Life Sciences and Tatum, Jodi Chavez oversees the field organization and provides strategic direction for Randstad Life Sciences, Randstad Professionals and Tatum. With more than 20 years’ experience in the staffing industry, Jodi’s entrepreneurial drive and strong business acumen have enabled her to consistently increase revenues, grow profits and deliver ROI. Her breadth of expertise spans team building, strategic planning and execution, M&A, branding, social media and multi-generational leadership.
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